Author: Katie Kohler

Students suspended after assault on female after school

A disturbing video circulating through social media shows a female, 15 year-old freshman student at Penn Wood High School – Cypress Street Campus being attacked. Shenise Taylor says after high school dismissal on Friday, Jan. 6th, her daughter began her usual walk to Park Lane Elementary School to pick up her younger sister. At about 3:30 p.m. on Weymouth Road, she was attacked from behind by a group of three girls and two boys. The victim recognized two of the attackers as students of the high school and two as students of the middle school (one boy she couldn’t identify). There appears to be no reason for the attack and nothing was stolen from the girl. One onlooker tried to break up the attack. After the attack, the girl, who her mother describes as “dazed,” picked up her sister from school, walked home and called her mother at work. The concerned mother called the school on Friday but did not receive an answer and figured everyone had left for the weekend. Taylor and her daughter went to the school last Monday morning and met with various security officers and Assistant Principal Katherine Lawson who informed her of the video which, until that point, Taylor was not aware of. “I watched the video and I cried. I couldn’t watch the whole video. I saw my daughter getting beat. I’m not...

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Cops down, crime up, cops promoted

By KatieKohler kkohler@myspiritnews.com Over the course of 2016, the Chester Police Department lost about 25 percent of its staff and six more detectives were set to leave by Jan. 1, 2017. In Jan. 2016, as in previous years, the total number of the department hovered around 102. According to city officials, 17-20 employees left over the course of the year but Chester officials announced late Monday that five cops were promoted from the patrol division to the detective squad. In a late afternoon statement, city spokesperson Aigner Cleveland issued a press release saying in part that city officials, “have been strategically looking at feasible ways to reassign and redeploy manpower within the department to fill needs,” Attributing the statement to Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, it claims the city has enough money in its 2017 budget to fully-staff a 106-member police force and is anticipating hiring other patrol cops to fill vacancies left by the promoted detectives. Newly-promoted detectives are Capt. James Chubb (27 years of service and the senior member of the department); Jamison Rogers (six years of service); Rhaheem Blandon (seven years of service); Steven Byrne (10 years of service); and Brian Pott (six years of service). All but Chubb were corporals in the patrol division. Chubb was a patrol captain. Returning detectives are Anthony Polites (18 years of service); Joseph McFate (17 years); and Victor Heness (16 years). Most...

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Sharon Hill Innovators: Wolf visits Indian food processing plant

By KatieKohler kkohler@myspiritnews.com Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf continued his Jobs That Pay Tour at Jyoti Natural Foods, an Indian foods manufacturer in Sharon Hill,  Monday morning. He was led on a guided tour by co-owners Dr. Vijai and Jyoti Gupta, pioneers in Indian heat-and-eat canned foods who launched the venture in 1979. “My wife and I insist on their food products, especially their rice, because it’s really well done,” said Wolf, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in India. “This is what Pennsylvania is about. These folks have taken a germ of an idea, when there was little...

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Feeling teacher vacancies, William Penn seeks diversity

By KatieKohler kkohler@myspiritnews.com The William Penn School District is feeling the sting of the 61 percent decrease in teaching certificates handed out by the state between 2013 and 2015. A memo addressed to the school board in October lists 17 retirements and 26 resignations across the district. Human Resources Director Joe Conley called the number of departures “exceptionally” high since the average is between three and five a year. “This is extremely unusual. We had a lot of teachers who started together and retired together. I don’t think it’s a number we will see again for many years,” commented Conley. According to Conley the criteria for retirement varies and the district offers an attractive retirement medical program. Most of the vacated positions have been filled. Currently there are postings for a school nurse, speech therapist, and long-term subs for employees on leave. The number of U.S. college students graduating with education degrees slipped from 106,300 in 2004 to 98,900 in 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The numbers are worse in Pennsylvania as it suffered a 61 percent decrease. In 2013, the state awarded 18,590 teaching certificates. In 2015, it handed out 7,180. School board members have spoken candidly about financial restraints and underfunding. Many of them commented during previous meetings about not being able to compete with the compensation packages offered by other districts. “We...

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Friends call Mitchell scandal ‘politics at its worst’

By KatieKohler kkohler@myspiritnews.com Last Wednesday afternoon, District Attorney Jack Whelan announced the arrest of, and laid out a list of charges against, longtime Upland Councilman Ed Mitchell, 73, including illegal wiretaps, felony theft offenses for receiving up to $133,000 in kickbacks for covert recording devices, cameras and security systems installed at inflated costs throughout Upland Borough Hall. Whelan called it a flagrant violation of public trust, but to former high ranking officials, the charges don’t match up to the Mitchell they know. One longtime family friend, who asked not to be identified, said Mitchell had no motive to steal...

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